By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A bill aimed at preventing Wyoming law enforcement officers from enforcing federal gun regulations that infringe on the Second Amendment was approved Monday by a Senate committee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, by a vote 4-0, approved SF102, the Second Amendment Protection Act, which sponsor Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, described as a way to protect protect Second Amendment rights while making sure law enforcement officers do not have to enforce improper federal laws.
“It is inherently important for us as the legislative branch of government to protect our citizens and their Second Amendment rights and also protect our law enforcement agencies from unconstitutional federal acts that would infringe on … our citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” Hicks said.
If approved, the bill would specify that state and local resources could not be used to enforce any federal law or regulation “that infringes on or impedes the free exercise of individual rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment.”
Hicks said the bill is based on the concept that while federal agencies are required to enforce federal rules and laws, Wyoming officials are not.
“The states are not obligated to implement federal laws,” he said. “That’s really important when we get into the context of the bill about having our local law enforcement put in a very untenable position of potentially having to enforce a federal law that we think … infringes on (citizens’) ownership and possession of guns and firearms.”
The act has the support of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said Executive Director Byron Oedekoven, because it protects both citizens and law enforcement officers.
“From our perspective, it protects Wyoming’s citizens, it upholds the Constitution and it preserves the Second Amendment,” he said.
The bill has been criticized by Wyoming Gun Owners, whose spokesman Aaron Dorr said in a podcast it does not go far enough.
“We have a horrific bill, what a treacherous, intentionally, treacherous bill that provides no protection to gun owners…” Dorr said in his podcast last week. “And it’s being pushed by the worst people in the Legislature. It should make you angry, it should make you outraged.”
Dorr endorsed Senate File 87, a bill that would declare any federal rule or law that infringes on firearms ownership — such as an increase in taxes on ammunition — as unconstitutional and null in Wyoming. It also proposed a penalty for law enforcement officers who tried to enforce such federal rules.
SF87 was killed on introduction in the Senate by a vote of 9-20, but Greg Hunter told committee members during public testimony he would prefer that bill or HB133, a similar measure that also failed introduction, be passed in place of SF102.
“The other bills, it felt like Wyoming would actually fight the feds,” he said. “This one feels like I’m being hung out to dry.”
Following committee approval, the bill heads to the Senate floor for debate.